SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn’t remember the emotions of his Senior Day when he was a captain for the Assumption College Greyhounds in 1982.
And that’s because the former linebacker only remembers that his team lost, the only blemish in 7-1-1 season, and that is something he doesn’t want the No. 3 Irish (10-0) to experience today as they close their home schedule against Wake Forest (5-5).
“I don’t remember the emotion of the game as much as losing the game,” Kelly said of his Senior Day experience. “I want to make sure that we don’t have that experience for our guys.”
Notre Dame’s seniors have closed their home careers with wins since Kelly arrived in 2010.
In Kelly’s first season, the Irish stopped a two-game home-finale losing streak with a 28-3 win over Utah that propelled Notre Dame to a season-ending four-game winning streak.
Last season, Notre Dame came away with a narrow 16-14 win over Boston College.
The win over the Eagles, and more importantly the Senior Day video that was shown during the season-ending banquet, helped solidify linebacker Manti Te’o’s decision to return for his senior year instead of jumping to the NFL.
“That was that moment where I said, ‘Yeah, I know what I’m going to do,’ ” Te’o said. “To see that video and see just the joy in their parents’ eyes and see the joy in my teammates’ eyes. … That’s something that money can’t buy. Money can’t buy that experience. I’ve realized that. Like I said before, I’m really excited. I’m very grateful that I’ll be able to experience that with my family.”
Fifth-year seniors Kapron Lewis-Moore, a defensive end, and Braxston Cave, a center, are happy they get to play in this year’s home finale. Last year, Lewis-Moore was sidelined with a knee injury, and Cave was out with a foot injury.
“I was pretty upset not playing last year,” Lewis-Moore said. “I think it is just going to be fun, running out on that field one more time and playing with my bros and have my mom (Wanna Lewis) and family and friends out there. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Fifth-year senior receiver John Goodman, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, said he would like to complete an exciting play that his high school coach, Chris Svarczkopf, has been craving for three years.
Goodman, who will play his last home game, would like to get a chance to throw a touchdown to tight end Tyler Eifert, who also graduated from Dwenger and is likely playing his final home game at Notre Dame today.
“My high school coach always says, ‘I just want to see you throw a touchdown to Tyler one time,’ ” Goodman said, laughing.
“It’s probably not going to happen now because teams are probably going to be looking for that.”